Sex was never spoken about in my family. It was something that happened in closed quarters and was never brought up.

My culture and religion viewed it as a taboo topic; I read it as an element in a relationship that was there, but not a necessity. There were more pressing matters to care about when you were involved with someone.

Now as a grown woman, I find it incredible that sex is all around me — my Instagram feed, my lecture slides and even in my day-to-day conversations. I'm comfortable talking about sex with my peers because it's a product of our culture. We are comfortable sharing the intimate details of our love or sex lives, since it is often sans-love in our hookup culture. But what amazes me every time is the look of sheer shock people get when I tell them I'm abstinent — and also a virgin.

Widened eyes and gawking faces react as they wonder how I can be so sex positive but not active. How I can cheer on my friends for their escapades and exhibitionism but be so conservative myself? Time and again I laugh at how naïve most are to people like me: those who are supportive and not judgmental but choose not to participate for personal reasons.

I'm not a unicorn, nor am I an anomaly. I'm just a human who has decided to wait until marriage, and there's nothing wrong with that decision. 

I'm abstinent because of my religion, a choice I made wholeheartedly. What's interesting are the replies I get because of my choice.

Most think I'm waiting for nothing, that God doesn't exist and I'm missing out on exciting sexual experiences. Some think I'm a prude and will eventually give it up to the person I decide to see seriously. But this underlying mentality that it's weird, or even  taboo, to not be sexually active as a young adult is what has me confused. When we're practicing sex in a sexually liberal culture, why do we think virgins are sexually frustrated moralists that can't possibly support or exist without bending over backwards to preach their beliefs?

Abstaining from sex is one of the most secure life decisions I have made as a woman. I can decipher through people's intentions and avoid the sex-crazed hookup apps because that is not something that appeals to me. I can dedicate the time I would waste on platonic situation-ships and use it on bettering myself with my religion or personal goals.

I can do all of this and still encourage those who are sexually active to keep safe and do them — or do others.

This is all to say that I do not see my virginity as a gift I will reward my future partner, or an act of defiance against our sexually-saturated Western culture or a strategic move to not be labeled as a slut or tease. It's a decision that I'm happy with despite the half-naked Instagram photos and suggestive comments I interact with on a daily basis.  

Being a virgin is typically seen as an odd thing at my age in our society, but I'm comfortable because it strengthens my relationship with my culture and religion. Staying abstinent is a personal choice and liberating in its own regard, and keeping my body to myself is what I see as a personal contract of self-love — the most important relationship we can ever have in life.

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Culture editor for volume 109 and 110, Samah spends her time bingewatching Netflix and sipping Starbucks while critiquing music, film and social media. She's specializing in Women's Studies and minoring in Creative Writing.

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